Monday, January 28, 2008

It was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in your early days of acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, but you only, for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need (Phillipians 4:14-16).

Our family was on the mission field when the dollar began to fall. Our home church's eldership in Mesa, Arizona, was aware of the situation since several were involved in international business. One special morning one of the elders called us in Amsterdam to inform us that the church had raised our salary by $200.00 a month. It had to be past midnight in Arizona for us to receive the call so early in the day. They were so pleased and excited that they could do this for us.

We were most grateful for the church's thoughtfulness. I remember after the phone call that my husband, Tom, and I embraced in the hallway of our apartment. It took a load of worry off of our shoulders. However, by the end of that month the dollar fell so much that even with the $200 extra in our pay check, we made less money than the month before. The $200 saved us from extreme suffering.

The American dollar is in that place again. Missionaries all over the world are affected by the continuing devaluation of the U. S. dollar. Please be aware that all missionaries are now living on much less than they were six months ago and each month their salary is less than the month before.

A few mission committee members from different congregations have contacted me about this situation and asked my advice. My advice is to find out what your missionary made in the local currency before the dollar began its steep decline. Each month when you place your missionary's salary into their bank account, find out how many dollars it will take to give your missionary the same amount of money they made before the fall. Yes, it will raise your budget, but I am confident that when you present your case to the congregation, many will open up their hearts and pocket books to help these missionaries out. Of all expatriates, missionaries make the least money already. They are dependent on the local economy. They have no commisary to turn to. They have already given up eating most American products. The majority of the women cook all their meals from "scratch." There are no 'hamburger helpers' or 'frozen entrees' to pull out of their freezer. A pair of jeans costs twice what jeans cost here. A very small compact car in Brazil costs over $75,000.00. In many countries the tax on automobiles is 100% of the cost of the car. Gasoline prices here are high. Try paying over $7.00 a gallon as many of our missionaries do.

Missionaries are already sacrificing in many ways. Please consider paying your missionaries a set amount in their local currency each month so that they can at least maintain themselves. When I wrote my dissertation 23 years ago, money - the lack of it - was the second greatest problem in missionary life. Please, let's not repeat this history.

Love's Prayers,